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Jim Hawkins grew up with the stars in his head
And the dread pirate Flint sailing all round his bed.
He’d dream of the treasure, while he was a kid,
Which this space pirate took to a planet and hid.
But twelve years have left, as his father did too,
And Jim’s a delinquent with little to do.
But that will soon change; Jim’s adventures begin
When Billy Bones enters the old Benbow Inn.
He gives Jim an orb before joining the morgue
And warns him about an impending cyborg.
The inn is attacked then and burned to the ground,
But Jim and his mom flee with what they have found.
Jim opens the sphere with a twist and a tap
And finds that it’s Captain Flint’s lost treasure map.
Their friend Dr. Doppler is wholly entranced,
Agreeing a voyage be quickly financed.
They’re off to the spaceport, as hastily planned,
With Captain Amelia, a cat, in command.
Jim then meets John Silver, the garrulous cook,
Who has more prosthetics than ol’ Captain Hook.
He’s wary at first of this cyborg-y one,
But soon they are bonding like father and son.
A close supernova makes their escape narrow
But swallows the trusty first mate, Mr. Arrow.
While Hawkins is hidden, he hears Silver talk
With the crew of a mutiny, which causes him shock.
As Jim tells the captain and Doppler of this,
The mutiny begins because something’s amiss.
The three journey down to the planet they’ve found,
Escaping the pirates by ramming the ground.
While searching for shelter, Jim meets up with B.E.N.,
A robotic castaway who shares his den.
With B.E.N.’s manic help, Jim goes back to the ship
To get back the map which he lost his first trip.
Back down on the planet, they all end up caught,
But Jim wields the map because Silver cannot.
The sphere leads the band to a portal of sorts,
That must have been used by Flint and his cohorts.
The right portal leads to the planet’s own core,
Where treasures abound, as recorded in lore.
They have a brief moment to revel in gold
Before a sly booby trap starts to take hold.
The planet begins to break up and explode,
And Silver saves Jim at the cost of his lode.
The heroes attempt to escape from the blast
But see they won’t make it when they lose the mast.
So Jim turns them round to the portal they saw
And sailing right through it, they barely withdraw.
It takes them back home just before certain death
And gives them a moment to re-catch their breath.
While Silver shoves off and Jim lets him retreat,
The cyborg is proud of “Jimbo’s” awesome feat.
Now that he’s done something to earn admiration,
Jim has a bright future in space navigation.

Treasure Planet should have been a hit, but, despite fairly good reviews from critics, it never gained much of an audience and sadly joined a string of Disney flops that led to the canning of their traditional animation department. I don’t understand the chilly reception since the film has much going for it. It’s a futuristic telling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, with spectacular cutting-edge visuals that combined hand-drawn and CGI animation, funny and likable characters, and some truly touching scenes. It’s also Disney’s most exciting animated movie, in my opinion, and was nominated for an Oscar (unfortunately losing to Spirited Away).

The voice actors suit their characters perfectly. The roles of Captain Amelia and Dr. Doppler were written with Emma Thompson and David Hyde Pierce in mind, but Brian Murray as Silver and an up-and-coming Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jim Hawkins fill their roles equally well. Martin Short is at his most frenetic as B.E.N., the castaway who has literally lost his mind, at times making Robin Williams look like a Type B personality. The script ranges from tear jerking to hilarious, and I love a few well-timed references to Star Trek and Jaws.

With all this going for it, why then did the movie bomb? I can’t say. Roger Ebert claimed it was too “gimmicky” to futurize the classic adventure novel, but I don’t think this gimmick is any worse than, say, The Great Mouse Detective, in which Disneyreimagined a Sherlock Holmes mystery with rodents. Then again, John Musker and Ron Clements did direct both films. Hmm.

It’s true that the concept may not be as original as it at first seems. Don Bluth’s even less-successful Titan A.E. was released just two years earlier and featured a heavy mix of traditional animation and CGI and a science fiction plot involving a fatherless young rogue following a map through the stars. In addition, there was even an Italian miniseries in the 1980s entitled Treasure Island in Outer Space or Treasure Planet. I don’t know if anything in Disney’s film was drawn from that, but it’s interesting to note.

As much as I’ve defended Treasure Planet, I must admit that, compared with most of Disney’s films, it just doesn’t stick out like others do. I may just like other movies better, but Treasure Planet is nonetheless a wondrous retelling of a classic story that anyone can enjoy.

Best line: (Captain Amelia to Dr. Doppler) “Doctor, to muse and blabber about a treasure map in front of this particular crew demonstrates a level of ineptitude that borders on the imbecilic! And I mean that in a very caring way.”

Artistry: 6
Characters/Actors: 7
Entertainment: 9
Visual Effects: 10
Originality: 5
Watchability: 8
Other (I just like other films more): -9
TOTAL: 36 out of 60

Next: #255 – Silverado

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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